Feening For Fennel

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It is quite common for people with lupus to have digestive issues and  last  Wednesday was the beginning of a nasty bout for me.  The timing was pretty bad: I had scheduled an aquaponics training for the very next morning and I  had some very excited farmers looking forward to it.

There was no way to mask the pain so it was great that I was in the company of likeminded  ‘food as medicine’ people: High Garden Center farmer George,  Dr. David Epstein, and Lois Peterson; a PGG board member who is currently furthering her study in  nutrition.

Dr. Dave suggested that I consider adding digestive enzymes pre-biotics  and pro-biotics to my supplement regiment. I was experiencing a flare (an auto immune crisis) so that was sound advice. Fortunately I have all of that on hand… including kombucha of course.  🙂

Lois suggested I go gluten-free and dairy free completely until things calmed down.  She also reminded me of the importance of bone broths when trying to  heal the gut. I grabbed Nourishing Traditions out of my office for reference.  Good thing I did! I had never considered putting wine in my broth! While I didn’t go there this time (with the turmoil in my belly I’ve decided to stay away from alcohol for the moment), I have filed that away under things I will certainly do in the near future. I cooked an organic bird slowly over the course of two days.  In addition I added loads of extras: a cinnamon stick, several garlic bulbs, onion, about 2 inches of ginger,  2 inches of turmeric, carrots and celery.

George sent me into the garden.

Grinning and Bearing it.

Grinning and Bearing it.

He mentioned a few plants that I might want to steep and drink as tea but for some reason I went right to the fennel, popped a few sprigs into my mouth. I have had fennel before in salads but have always remained pretty neutral on it. On this day, however,   I was actually craving it.  And I’ve been noshing on it every day since. Fennel has a licorice like flavor so it taste like candy to me. Eating it, was soothing.

After several days of running into the garden for my fennel fix, I decided to see why my body was asking for it.  After researching it further, it turns out it makes perfect sense.  Here are some of the benefits of fennel listed on juicingforhealth.com:

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Anemia:  Since fennel is rich in iron and histidine, it serves as a good natural remedy for anemia. The production of hemoglobin is increased as a result of the consumption of food containing iron.

Breast milk, secretion:  Lactating mothers can consume fennel juice regularly to increase the secretion of nutritious milk for their infants.

Cancer:  The high content of vitamin C, flavonoids and essential oils in fennel bulb all provide synergistic healing properties for the prevention of cancer.

Colic:  Colic happens because of an imbalanced intestinal flora.  The essential oils found in fennel are useful for rebalancing the flora for remedy of renal colic.

Constipation:  The roughage in fennel seeds act as a stimulant in the clearance of bowels.  By taking fennel juice regularly, it helps to rebalance the digestive tract, thus promotes regular bowel movement.

Diarrhea:  The essential oils in fennel like Cineole and Anethole help to remedy diarrhea. By taking fennel juice regularly, it helps to rebalance the digestive tract, thus promotes a healthy bowel movement.

Diuretic:  The diuretic property of fennel helps in the removal of toxic substances from the body through frequent urination. Thus, it helps to reduce inflammation that causes rheumatism and swelling.

Flatulence:  Excessive flatulence happens due to the highly imbalanced intestinal flora in the digestive tract.  Fennel has the capability to reduce the bad bacteria while increasing the good bacteria that help rebalance the digestive flora.

Hair health:  The sulphur content together with all the right amino acids and essential oils in fennel help strengthen hair and reduce hair fall.

High blood pressure:  The high potassium content in fennel helps reduce high blood pressure and thus decreasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Indigestion:  The essential oils in fennel increases the secretion of digestive juices, helping in reduction of stomach inflammation and in the absorption of nutrients from the food eaten. Since fennel also has anti-acidic qualities, it is used widely also as an antacid.

Menstruation disorders:  As fennel is an emmenagogue, it helps regulate the hormonal action in the female body, easing menstruation flow.

Vision health:  Fennel has unique properties that can help protect from eyes inflammation, as well as with other eye disorders which are directly or indirectly connected to muscular degeneration and aging.  Due to the anti-oxidants and the necessary amino acids in fennel, they help rejuvenate and prevent aging. The juice of fennel leaves when externally applied on the eyes may help reduce eye irritations and fatigue.

I am on the mend! Was it the broth? Kombucha?  Fennel?

I’d say all three.   I’d also say that I am healing my body with  comfort food, soda and candy.  Except it’s real food. And that just makes me giddy.

 

 

 

 

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9 Signs You Might Be a Homesteader in Disguise (like me!)

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“It’s not a single idea, but many ideas and attitudes, including a reverence for nature and a preference for country life; a desire for maximum personal self-reliance and creative leisure; a concern for family, nature and community cohesion; a certain hostility toward luxury; a belief that the primary reward of work should be well-being rather than money; a certain nostalgia for the supposed simplicities of the past and an anxiety about the technological bureaucratic complexities of the present and the future; and a taste for the plain and functional.”   JD Belanger, Countryside Magazine.

I’ve been practicing homesteading principles with my family for years (refer to my kombucha obsession as exhibit A). I’ve always known that I was a bit odd  but I always described myself as ‘practical’  ‘pragmatic’,  or ‘functional’.  Although I’ve been  following self-sufficiency pioneers like Kristen Michaelis (Food Renegade)  and Hannah Crum (Kombucha Kamp) for years, I didn’t fully identify with the movement until recently.  It wasn’t until I started hanging out with other homesteaders in my community did I realize that my lack of  livestock and green thumb didn’t exclude me.  As a matter of fact, there are plenty folks just like me!

Curious to know if you qualify? Here are a few signs that you might be a budding homesteader:

You have an urge to ‘grow’

My farmer friend George gave me mullein a few weeks ago. It is doing quite well.

My farmer friend George gave me mullein a few weeks ago. Time to re-pot!

A lot of people think that in order to be a homesteader you have to live on a farm, or at least have a garden and a few chickens. I live in a  suburban subdivision governed by a HOA that requires approval to change paint colors. But the urge to ‘grow’ is still there. I have a few medicinal plants and herbs growing around my house. How about you? Inside plants count too!

SN: Growing in your mindset also comes with the territory.

You find yourself gradually giving up on aesthetics

I used to wish I had more time fix myself (or my house) up… not so much any more. I have held on to some girlie behaviors (mani/pedis and tamed eyebrows specifically) but most days, I just go with the flow.   I will, however,  frantically throw things in closets if you say you are coming by.  Aside from that, I’ve willfully traded a clutter free home for scoby hotels and routine precise haircuts for weekly coconut oil treatments. Did any of that make sense? Yes?  Keep reading. 🙂

You are willing to embrace your own funk

This pairs nicely with letting go of appearances. Once I learned of the connections between the chemicals in most deodorants and disease, I decided I didn’t smell so bad after all. Ha!  Seriously, it is about much more than body odor.  Are you concerned about what you put on your body as much as what goes in your body? Do you find yourself wanting to find non toxic cleaning products to use in your home?  Pretty good chance you are one of us.

Check out our fancy dish ware.

Check out our fancy dish ware.

You recycle, reuse and up-cycle

Do you shop at (and donate to) thrift stores? Is your recycling bin in competition with your trash? In our household, very few things make it to the dumpster. We compost, drink out of reused jars, and can tell you the name of every resale shop within a 10 mile radius.

You appreciate animals 

There are homesteaders who don’t eat meat and those who raise animals for food.  Regardless of the perspective, homesteaders value and respect the role animals play in a healthy society.

You value and support local businesses

Homesteading is about building community. At its core is supporting your neighbors. Do you find yourself getting excited when a mom and pop opens up shop? Does a little piece of you die when you see trees being cleared for yet another strip mall?

My new work boots Brand new from a local thrift store Score!

My new work boots. Unused from a local thrift store. Score!

You don’t believe in throwing food away

Activities like canning and dehydrating are closely connected with homesteading because they are typically practiced by those who grow/process (or purchase) a lot of food at one time.  However,even  if you find yourself taking a leftover chicken and making salad and then using the carcass to make broth, you have homesteading tendencies.

Our family's  version of kick the can. Composting in the City.

Our family’s version of kick the can. Composting in the city.

It is important that you know your neighbors

While sustainable living involves self-sufficiency, it is best achieved in a community. Are you that neighbor that always has a few eggs to give in a cooking emergency? Do you lend tools or your abilities to those around you?

You enjoy giving and/or receiving homemade gifts

Every year we make homemade sweets during the holidays. My kids also make jewelry, bath soaps, and furniture

A Christmas gift from my oldest to my youngest

A Christmas gift from my oldest to my youngest

throughout the year as gifts.  My best friend hand sews clothing and blankets for me and my kiddos and those are amongst our most prized possessions. Do you marvel at true craftsmanship? Do you spend more money and time then makes sense to give someone something you’ve made?  It’s okay. We all do it. 🙂

If I lived 1,000 years I would probably not catch up to the Kristens and  Hannahs of the world. It’s a good thing I am not trying! That is actually part the beauty of homesteading. It isn’t a competition. It is about supporting each other toward the common goal of self sufficiency.  We each have to define what that looks like to us.  For me, it looks like providing the best I can for my family and sharing all that I am with those around me… learning and growing every single day.  Oh and an occasional chai latte  with a bit of dark chocolate with sea salt.  Hey… it’s all about balance. 😉

Did you make it through the entire blog post?  I’m not an authority or anything, but I think you are in!

 

Tinkering around with Tinctures

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In an (every evolving) effort toward achieve optimal health through sustainable, holistic and cost-effective ways,   I’ve added making tinctures to my toolkit.  Tinctures are a medicinal preparation of  herbs. Alcohol, glycerin, and apple cider vinegar are agents used to extract the healing properties from the plant.  Alcohol is considered the most effective, however, because it is such a potent solvent. Alcohol tinctures  also have a virtually unlimited shelf life.

In the past I have purchased them from the health food store; milk thistle tincture is a staple in my ‘medicine’ cabinet. A known detoxifier,  it gives my liver (which has a tendency to get sluggish due to my sticky blood) a bit of a boost.  It wasn’t until a Ladies Homesteading Gathering  meeting this summer that I realized how easy it is to make them!

Here are the steps to making a tincture as outlined on wikiHow. This is essentially how I prepared mine. I’ve italicized my notes.

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Purchase quality alcohol. The preferred type of alcohol for producing a tincture is vodka. This is owing to its being colorless, odorless, and fairly flavorless. If you cannot obtain vodka, brandy, rum, or whiskey can be substituted. Whatever alcohol is chosen, it must be 80 proof (namely, 40% alcohol) to prevent mildewing of the plant material in the bottle.  I used vodka but I think I will use tequila moving forward. I have found that my body reacts to it best. 

Use a suitable container. The container for the tincture should be glass or ceramic. Avoid using metallic or plastic containers because these can react with the tincture or leach dangerous chemicals over time. Items such as a Mason jar, a glass bottle with an attached stopper, etc., are ideal for steeping a tincture. In addition, you will need to get some small dark glass tincture bottles for storing the tincture in once it has been made; these bottles should have a tight screw-on or tight clip-on lid to prevent air intrusion during storage but to allow for ease of use. Ensure that all containers are both washed clean and sterilized prior to use. I used mason jars to make the tinctures and ordered my tincture bottles from Amazon (less expensive than other options I found). I was able to find four ounces containers…but I had to dig for them. 
Prepare the tincture. You can prepare a tincture by measurement or by sight; it really depends on your level of comfort with simply adding herbs  and judging by eye, or whether you feel more comfortable adding them by measured weight. Also, you should know whether you want to add fresh, powdered, or dried herbs to the tincture. Some suggestions for adding the herbs in the order of fresh, powdered, or dried are as follows:

  • Add enough fresh chopped herbs to fill the glass container. Cover with alcohol. 
  • Add 4 ounces (113g) of powdered herb with 1 pint (473ml) of alcohol (or vinegar/glycerin).
  • Add 7 ounces (198g) of dried herb material to 35 fluid ounces (1 liter) of alcohol (or vinegar/glycerin).

I used a variety of fresh herbs shared with me by the other ladies at the group. I grow a few herbs at home that I purchased from Cedar Seeder (I trust them completely).  I do plan to order dried herbs for future tinctures  from Mountain Rose Herbs. It is very important that you use quality herbs for your tinctures. Remember that you are extracting that which the herb contains. If it has been grown with pesticides, that will also be a part of your medicine.  Totally defeats the purpose.

Seal the container. Place it into a cool, dark area; a cupboard shelf works best. The container should be stored there for 8 days to a month.

  • Shake the container regularly. Twice a day for 14 days is typically recommended.
  • Be sure to label the steeping tincture so that you know what it is and the date on which it was made. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

One of the leaders  of our group strongly urged us to label… I am so glad she did. I am very well-known for giving my memory more credit than it deserves. I would have been in trouble otherwise!  11-8blogpic1

Strain the tincture. Once the steeping time is finished (either the tincture instructions you’re following will inform you of this or you’ll know already from experience but if not, about two weeks is a good steeping time), strain the tincture as follows:

  • Place a muslin cloth across a sieve. Place a large bowl underneath to catch the strained liquid.
  • Gently pour the steeped liquid through the muslin-lined sieve. The muslin will capture the plant material and the liquid will pass through into the bowl underneath.
  • Press the herb material with a wooden or bamboo spoon to squeeze out some more liquid, and lastly, twist the muslin to extract any leftover liquid from the herbs.

There is no fast way to do this. Trust me. Take your time. This gets messy and can be frustrating so don’t do this on a stressful day.  SN: I believe that we can pass our energy on into the things we prepare. It is important to be of sound mind when you make your medicine.

Decant the liquid into a prepared tincture bottle. Use a small funnel for this step if you don’t have a steady hand. Tighten the lid and date and label the tincture.

You will need a very small funnel. My daughter and I made funnels out of paper plates.. many of them because they didn’t last. lol. I wasn’t prepared. 

Store and use. A tincture can have a shelf life of up to 5 years owing to the fact that alcohol is a preservative. However, know the properties of the particular herbs you’ve used, and follow the guidance of the recipe from which you’re making the tincture in terms of how long to keep the tincture for.

  • Follow the instructions relevant to your tincture for usage; consult a qualified, reputable herbalist or a health professional if you need more information and bear in mind that herbal treatments can be dangerous if you don’t know the properties of the herb and its consequences.

This is perhaps the most important part of the making tinctures. You MUST remember that this is medicine. Do your research and speak to your health care advisor before taking.   Some herbs have drug interactions with pharmaceuticals.  It is also hard to gauge the actual dosage of a tincture. General rule of thumb is 2 dropperfulls, 2-3 times a day.  Some tinctures are to be taken as needed (peppermint, ginger, fennel for belly issues) and others can be taken on a rotation. I take my milk thistle on a 2 week rotation. 

Working with herbs and alcohol got me to thinking….1800-Tequini-224x300

What about taking this idea and running with it on a larger scale?

Y’all know me, go big or go home. Hee hee!

My friends, I present to you my herb infused tequila. 🙂

 

  • 750ml bottle of premium blanco tequila
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • 1 large piece of fresh ginger
  • infusion jar with tight sealing lid

Follow the same steps as making a tincture but this time no dropper is needed. 🙂

For the cocktail, I mix 2 ounces of the infused tequila, the juice of one lime,  6 ounces of Perrier, and simple syrup I make with local raw honey (equal parts honey and boiling water …1 1/2 tablespoons is perfect to me).

While this is a pretty big leap away from tinctures,  I like to think that my cocktail provides a solid alternative for the healthy-minded.

Questions about tinctures? Have your own personal experience you’d like to share?  Leave a comment and let’s discuss.

Cheers!

Fried Green Tomatoes

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Let’s start off with a recipe shall we?

It is tomato season so I scored some beauties during a morning visit to my local farmer’s market. Inexpensive, and easy to make, fried green tomatoes are a tangy and satisfying salute to summer. Here’s how I made them:

Ingredients
4-6 firm green tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch slices
Himalayan sea salt
1/2 cup gluten free pancake mix
1/2 cup organic corn meal
turmeric
cayenne pepper
onion powder
garlic powder
1/2 cup organic almond milk
coconut oil
cast iron skillet

Salt the tomatoes and set them aside. Mix remaining dry ingredients in a gallon sized seal-able bag. Heat coconut oil (enough to cover the pan in a thin layer) on medium heat. I play with the amount of oil I use and my flame along the way (I mention those who cook on electric stoves in my prayers).

You must do this one tomato at a time:

Dip the tomato in the milk bath and coat it with batter. Place into hot oil. Sounds like a crazy thing to mention but this is about technique just as much as it is about anything else. You can fry more than one tomato at a time but be sure not to over cook the tomatoes. I suggest frying a tester tomato or two to get give yourself a chance to get into the groove. Since you are frying a vegetable, there is really no worries about it being ‘raw’ just ‘mushy’. And it the game of fried green tomatoes, mushy means you lose.

That’s it!

golden deliciousness!

golden deliciousness!

 

Sounds simple right? Well it is… But you must follow a few rules:

1)You must use green tomatoes. Not one bit of a single other color on the fruit. Test this theory and again, you lose.

2)The cast iron skillet is an ingredient for a reason. This is not optional.

3)Do not get lazy and add the salt to the dry mix. Salt the damn tomatoes. It matters.

4) I know paper towels do not make for sexy pictures but they are a southern cook’s staple. You must soak up the excess grease with paper towels. Period.

5). Gather you family as soon as the grease gets hot. These babies cook in minutes and are to be eaten as soon as they cool… just a little bit. Cold or old (and once they are cold they are old) fried green tomatoes are just ruined.

I made these last night and they were a hit with the crew.

I should mention that there was a bit of an issue in my kitchen. When I started heating the oil, the hubster started sniffing around.”That smells interesting.” Really dude? Was my corresponding look. “I mean, you sure you about that coconut oil? It smells a little sweet.” I don’t know if it was my ice glare or the telepathic “Get out of my kitchen!” but he quickly turned on his heals and left the room.

Yeah, I’m sure.

By now, I’m certain that a few old school southern cooks didn’t make it past the phrase  ‘gluten free’ in my recipe. I must admit the term is really is  overly played and if it weren’t for my gut telling me otherwise, I’d join them in eye rolling this blog.

But I have a funky belly.

And I’m Southern.

And I know how to take a dish taught to me by my momma  and make it so that I can eat it.

Besides, I’ve been playing with and in my food a lot these days.

The non-profit I run (surprise!), Project Generation Gap has partnered with Rancho Alegre Farm (you might remember me mentioning visiting with them last Fall). Our goal is to bridge the gap between traditional and technology; the tried and true and the new. I assure you, this is the best news you’ve heard in a long time. Well that’s probably not true but we are REALLY excited.

So let me tell you how I got to this point:

Over the years, I’ve learned so much about nutrient dense foods, the effects of a poor diet, disease maintenance, and  the importance of a solid exercise program. Along with my degree in Education from the University of Georgia, I’ve received certifications in both fitness and in nutrition.
I’ve also studied modalities rooted in culture and tradition: healing herbs, food preservation, fermentation, functional/natural movements… all have me reconnecting with nature.

While I admire the research and work that has gone into establishing ‘super foods’ and ‘the ‘dirty dozen’, I found myself feeling like food (and its healing potential)  is being complicated unnecessarily.

And that we are raising a generation of largely inactive and unhealthy kiddos who have no clue where their food comes from.

Not to mention the elderly, who have so much to offer in solving the above issues, are devalued and sometimes, abandoned.

About a year ago I had a conversation with my friend and client, Janice, in the sauna. We talked about this and many others issues that plague our society. She has had her own health triumph using food and has a passion for children and the elderly. It might have been the heat that gave us the confidence but in that moment, Project Generation Gap was born. You can read more about our story here.

Jaan and her mom.

Janice and her mom.

It didn’t take a long to realize that if we wanted to make a real change, we had to not only talk about good food, we had to grow it, share it and teach about it. Partnering with a farm has put us in a position to do just that.

One of the first things we decided to do was send some kids to farm camp. I got to experience Rancho Alegre Farm’s (RAF) first week of camp in June and it made me want to send every child I know! Pilar (the owner/operator) and I put our heads together and came up with a way to give 10 kids a great opportunity this summer. She agreed to reduce the fee for our sponsored kids. Great Beginnings (a local daycare center) is providing transportation to and from camp. Project Generation Gap is raising the funds. See what can happen when a community comes together?

Me, Lloyd of Great Beginnings, and Pilar of Rancho Alegre. Making it happen for the kiddos!

Me, Lloyd of Great Beginnings, and Pilar of Rancho Alegre. Making it happen for the kiddos!

We need your support. Please purchase a t-shirt! Every 5 shirts sold sends a kiddo to camp.

Cool, huh?

Stay tuned for updates on me adjusting to farm living… very Green Acres-esque. HA!

Good times.

All the Hotties Do Pilates (and drink carrot juice)

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Spring is here and like most I am more than happy to say goodbye to a really rude winter.  It definitely stayed beyond its welcome.  As I pack up my parka and pull out the flip-flops I’ve started examining the condition of my hibernating body.  I took a leave of absence from CrossFit and confined my running to a HIIT workout once a week on the treadmill. The bulk of my exercise the last few months came from a combination of yoga and Pilates.

While I’ve maintained a steady yoga practice for over a year now, Pilates is a new venture for me.  I’ve always incorporated Pilates exercises when working with my clients.  Exercises  like the hundred, and the double leg stretch were fixtures in core work.  However, until this year, I had not had any experience on a reformer. My client turned workout partner, Jan, has wanted to take a stab at reformer Pilates for a while but I was less than enthused. My (limited) thinking: I would be trading my intense WODS for a bunch of stretching.  (I know… I should be ashamed to tell you that. right?) After a few lengthy discussions with Emily (my instructor) I agreed to give it a month. But just a month.

I am pretty sure Emily saw my attitude in the beginning as challenge. Not sure if her plan was to win me over or teach me a lesson but she succeeded in doing both.  It took a solid month for me to ‘get it’ because uhhh… it is HARD.  There were many times that I considered that the waiver I signed was not just a formality.

 

So what about my results?

Well…

It’s been right at 2 months and I have noticed three major improvements:

1) I am better at yoga.

Many Pilates moves are similar to yoga. The difference is that there is very little instruction in yoga. The instructor leads you from one pose to another with guidance but the focus is on listening to your body on any given day. There is no wrong or right way in yoga. There definitely is in Pilates. When I do something wrong, Emily not only tells me, she will come over and physically shift my body until I am in the correct position. I have never had this level of attention to detail when exercising. Read that again and remember that I am a trained professional!  Now when I go to yoga, I move more effortlessly from one pose to the next without worrying that I am not getting the most out of my practice physically.  I am genuinely out of my head and listening to body completely.

2)My running has improved.

I recently started running 10 miles a week again. I ran my first in a year race yesterday: The Atlanta Women’s 5k.  I feel like my stride is more consistent. Even though my endurance has suffered from a lack of cardio, my core strength has improved tremendously.  Emily told me this is common with the runners she works with.

3)My  muscles are more defined.

Particularly my obliques; a tough area to strengthen.   My shoulders are also looking good; the highly coveted ‘teardrop’ is breaking through…yessssss!!!  Just in time for tank tops.  Happiness.

 

On to the carrot juice.  I was talking this morning to Jamie when I came across a sale at Publix on Bolt House Farms juices (BOGO). While I don’t typically buy it, She suggested I grab some carrot juice to mix with cocoa. Although it sounded disgusting (she promised it taste like chocolate milk), I decided to give it a shot.  I am not a huge carrot fan but I was dragging today and needed an energy boost. A cup of carrot juice gives you more than one-fourth of your daily requirement for vitamin C. It also gives you half the vitamin E you need daily, 2,256 micrograms of vitamin A (more than three times your recommended daily intake for that important antioxidant). It also packs a powerful punch of  those crucial B vitamins (39 percent of your recommended daily intake for vitamin B-6, 20 percent for thiamine and 12 percent for riboflavin), and vitamin K (good for proper blood clotting).

Minerals are also plentiful in carrot juice. Each cup of carrot juice contains about one-seventh of the potassium and phosphorus you should get daily, benefiting your nervous system and bone health. It also has one-tenth of your recommended daily intake for magnesium, a mineral that plays a role in muscle contraction, and 6 percent of the bone-strengthening calcium you need each day.

As for cocoa studies indicate that it provides it own lists of benefits. However, let’s not kid ourselves here. Chocolate just makes things taste better. Period. 🙂

 

Here is how I made it:

8 ounces of carrot juice (I lazily used Bolt House Farms but juicing organic carrots would be worlds better all the way around)

1 heaping tablespoon of unsweetened organic, fair trade cocoa. (Made by Lake Champlain; I can only find it consistently on Amazon)

Mixed in my blender bottle.

Total yumminess.  Surprised? Me too.

Jamie told me she was inspired to make this after having it at Arden’s Garden, a local juice bar here in Atlanta. Guess what? They ship!  In the future, I will probably juice a bunch of carrots at a time and have it on hand for a few days. But it’s good to know they have it in case I get lazy again. Which is likely. 🙂

 

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I heart this. Veggie love at its best.

 

 

 

For the Love of Beets

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beetroot-heart

If you would have told me 2 years ago I would ever eat beets I would have called you insane.

If you would have said that I would eat them almost daily I would have suggested you get your head examined.

But here I am, a beet eating (almost loving) fool.

But HOW? And more importantly WHY?

Well, despite the fact that I have been on a focused fitness path for the greater part of my adult life, it has been in the last few years that I have begun to focus in on what I eat. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been what most would consider a good eater for some time. I’ve always loved to cook and I’ve stayed on top of whatever food trends seem to be gaining traction in the fitness world. The thing is, it took my health (not the outward appearance of my body) to force me to shift my relationship with food. As I began to experience autoimmune flares (and eventually find myself hospitalized a few times) I began to research how I could use food to HEAL my body.

I stopped struggling with food; meaning I took my attention off of weight loss and athletic performance. Instead, I focused on fueling my body for optimum health. **SN: when you fuel your body for optimal health, perfect weight and improved athletic performance are natural byproducts** I researched the systems of the body paying particular attention to those that present a challenge for me: digestive, urinary and reproductive. I determined that there is clear evidence (both scientific and anecdotal) that what we eat matters to every cell in our body. If I wanted to heal, I had to listen to my body.

Slowly but surely I stepped away from a dieters mentality. That was hard because our society has conditioned us to ‘diet’. Rather we need it or not! That was the first realization. I did not need to lose weight. I needed to get well. So therefore I needed to eat foods to get me there.  I examined with new eyes how my peers (including those in the fitness world) ate. Generally speaking… we do not eat a lot of  real food.  Protein bars, shakes, goos and gels all acceptable ways to fuel our bodies. In addition, most people don’t enjoy much of  what they eat at all. They see food as serving a purpose; for the dieter the goal is to limit food for the purpose of weight loss for the food addict, food might provide emotional comfort. The bottom line is… very few people eat for health or for true enjoyment.

I considered that fact that despite the fancy packaging and enticing marketing… processed food is not exciting. Nor does it taste good. Walk over to the produce section and now you are talking eye candy! Food that represents the colors of the rainbow; that stand alone. No bells or whistles needed. Just good solid nutrition. Just as God intended.  images

 

First decision: Fall in love with food.  REAL FOOD. Its healing properties and its taste.

Nothing like being sick to make you appreciate your body and the beautiful temple God created it to be.  I LOVED my body for what it had done for me when I needed it to. I was thankful to God for my healing. The least I could do is acknowledge this gift with my food choices.

So what does all of this have to do with Beets?

Well…

I started paying attention to the value of my food and considering how I could increase it. I incorporated juicing, soups and salads… all big bangs for my buck.

I paid attention to what is offered locally and seasonally. To which foods my body needed to function optimally.

This is where beets entered the picture.

As I worked to increase the nutritional value of my food, beets kept coming up.  Beets are known detoxifiers, considered a super antioxidant and have brain boosting properties. The are also a great anti inflammatory food AND aphrodisiac.

Now despite ALLLL of this,  I just ignored them at first. I had never tasted them because the smell alone gave me drive heaves.  I am not a picky eater so I took the revulsion very seriously. I mean apparently my body did not want them, right?

Wrong.

It was just a sign of a lifetime of conditioning.  Once I recognized that, I became determined to overcome my disdain for beets. Like a challenge. We all know how much I like a challenge. 😉

I wanted to see if I could change my own mind about beets.

I had enough sense to realize that I was powerless over my gag reflex so I needed to hide them in my food.  I began making my smoothies with beets. Now because of their rich color (a huge sign that something is good for you by the way) there is not mistaking that beets were in the smoothie. But by juicing with fruits and vegetables with strong flavors (such as pineapple and ginger) I was able to almost completely mask the taste. Every few days I increased the amount of beets in the smoothie and decreased the amount of the other foods. Some days I was  more successful than others but after a few weeks of this, I had no issue with the beets in my smoothie! I continued my beet green smoothies for several months. However,  I rotate my vegetables so I didn’t have them every single day.

This past Fall beets became seasonly available.  My local Whole Foods started offering several dishes that featured beets. I decided to try beets outside of my smoothies and guess what? I didn’t die! No more queasiness. I could handle the smell, I could chew it up and I could swallow. Again and again. Over and over.  For me, this was monumental.  I started getting a side dish containing beets on my weekly trip to the store. Beets with goat cheese… quinoa with beets… beet slaw… I tried it all.

The final frontier was cooking with them.  More about that in part two.  For now, here is my signature smote which contains beets as a star player.  Tell me what you think!

(Pssst… A contest is coming in Part 2!)

Sagdrina's Signature Smoothie